June 7 - Greek tourism could drop up to 15 percent this year amid political uncertainty in the country, according to the Greek Tourism Enterprises Association. Andrew Potter reports.
Playing to an absent audience. This band in Athens would normally expect to perform before crowded cafes. Not this summer. The financial crisis is seeing once popular restaurants bypassed. Apostolos Georgilis is a waiter. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) APOSTOLOS GEORGILIS, WAITER, SAYING: "I have never experienced this before. I am 72 years old and this situation Greece is going through, I don't think it has ever gone through this before." Greece is in its fifth year of a deep financial crisis which still has a long way to run, and is mired in political uncertainty. Tourism is a vital path to recovery. But it's likely to drop as much as 15 percent this year, according to Andreas Andreadis, from Greece's Tourism Enterprises Association. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREAS ANDREADIS, THE HEAD OF GREECE'S TOURISM ENTERPRISES ASSOCIATION (SETE) SAYING: "After the elections of the 6th of May, due to the political instability and discussions in Greece of if it stays in the eurozone or not and so on, the rate of bookings for half of the season, for July, august and further down have been reduced. We saw a drop of more than 30 percent. It started with 50 it is now it is less than 30 percent down." It's certainly been noticed by the tourists who still come here. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JUDITH TUFFS, ENGLISH TOURIST, SAYING: "They are very frightened for their future, very frightened. They don't know what will happen after the next election. I don't think anyone knows. It's so close to decide which way it goes." German tourist numbers have fallen sharply. Many blame the German government and its push for Greece to accept sweeping austerity measures for their misery. That's made life uncomfortabe for some German tourists still visiting. (SOUNDBITE) (German) STEGNER JURGEN, GERMAN TOURIST, SAYING: "We even avoided wearing typically German clothing, we don't want to out ourselves as German because I believe that Germans are looked upon critically at the moment. It would be better if the Greeks looked critically upon themselves." Greece hasn't lost any of its beauty, it's just that fewer tourists are coming to see it. Getting them back is vital. Andrew Potter, Reuters